Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston is looking for consistency from his team as their championship opener with Tipperary looms.
“I’m not going to say much about how we’ll play but starting out in the championship, we’re looking for consistency of play, not just from game to game but within games. This bunch have been criticised for lack of consistency from game to game and within games, but workrate now is a given.
“In games we’ve played well in, that’s been when the workrate has been good, and vice versa. And the Kilkenny game was a good example.”
Cork’s recent lack of success hasn’t dented confidence in the team, adds Kingston. “Obviously it’s a concern, we all know Cork haven’t won an All-Ireland in 11 years, and we’ve only won a Munster title in that time, which is a really barren spell for a county like Cork.
“But from what I can see it hasn’t really impacted on these lads. We had a tough time in the league, following on from last year, when I wasn’t around, but winning away to Galway in a do or die game, I think that gave us a great boost to conclude the league. However when we play against Tipperary or later in the championship, that won’t be an issue.”
The Tracton clubman feels Cork are producing quality players: “I’ve said it publicly, I think Cork have fantastic players coming through, we saw how the underage squads did last year. I feel we’ve been unlucky not to have won at least one minor title in that time but I also think it’s not necessarily a given you need to win minor All-Irelands to be winning senior All- Irelands.
“Any Cork minor team, you can develop two or three players out of it — whether they’re good enough down the road or not we’ll have to see. We have a development squad in place working with guys out of minor, U21, not necessarily for this year but next year and the year after. That’s important.
“I think U21 is probably more important in producing senior players, because the gap between minor and senior is huge. Good U21s are readier to step into a senior environment than minors.”
Kingston says the recent league final replay was a good end to the league and start to the championship: “Every team looks at their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of the opposition. Because you had two tactical teams in the (league) final that was probably truer than usual, but you still had a good game of hurling. Quality still shines. You have good players, and that quality comes out.
“I think the game is changing all the time, any successful team brings their own dimension. The physical attributes of players - their speed, the ground they cover, all of that - has changed even since I was involved in 2014.
“The supporters of any county team want success. Teams are trying to bring something different, and if they can identify strengths and weaknesses and work on those, you get what you saw with Clare and Waterford.
“We saw it in the league final, with Waterford last year in terms of criticism for the way they played — but they got promoted last year, won a league and nearly won another this year.”
Despite the tactical developments, the Cork boss says: “You can’t rewrite how hurling is played - it’s a manly game with workrate, speed, stamina, skill. No matter what tactics you play those will still come to the fore, because you still have a lot of tactical teams which aren’t winning.
“People forget that. There are unsuccessful teams which are very tactical, too. Tactical teams are winning is because they have very good players.
“Hurling is played on instinct, with flair — it’s not like other sports where you can plan for what happens next. Okay, you have a system but the players within that use individual brilliance.
“That’ll always be the case — because tactics are fine but they’re only as good as those implementing them.”
The Tipperary County Board will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Munster final win over Cork at a special centenary lunch in the Dome at Semple Stadium before Sunday’s game. Tomás Mulcahy and Nicky English will be guest speakers. For tickets, contact Sean Nugent (087-2669304) or Tim Floyd (087 2591747).
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